Linda Friedman Ramirez is a resident of Saranac Lake. She previously owned an art gallery in St Petersburg, Florida, and appreciates how art is integral to a community. She's contributing these artist profiles on behalf of ArtWorks, of which she is a member.
Kelly Griffin Petrie has been a businesswoman here in the North Country for nearly 20 years. Kelly is here at her Studio 30 in Saranac Lake.
Businesswomen in the Adirondacks
Owning and operating a business is not for the faint of heart. Just consider the difficulties the pandemic presented! But women in the Adirondacks do not shy from the challenge. Curiously, it wasn’t until New York Congressman John LaFalce introduced legislation in 1988 that eliminated laws requiring women in some states to have a male relative sign a business loan. The goal of that law, HR 5050: Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 (“WBOA”) was to aid the success of women business owners. The law established the National Women’s Business Council to review the status of women-owned businesses nationwide and to develop detailed multi-year plans to assist and promote such businesses. 
Fast forward 35 years. There are now more than 10 million women owned non-employer (no paid employees) firms, for a share of 41% of all nonemployer businesses in the US. The US Census also maintains some details about women business ownership. Women Business Ownership in America On the Rise. In FY 22, the Small Business Administration, in its Upstate New York District alone, made 92 traditional loans to woman-owned businesses, with a total value of $32.3 million. Katrina Ballard, the Women’s Business Liaison at the SBA office in Syracuse, pointed out that the SBA microloan program is a good option for women entrepreneurs who are looking for small dollar loans of up to $50,000. In FY22, the SBA Upstate New York district office made 23 such microloans totaling $468,000 to woman-owned small businesses
You’ve probably seen Blue Line Compost’s green buckets around the area, particularly at the bucket swap sites located at Coakley’s Hardware in Saranac Lakeor Green Goddess in Lake Placid. You probably know that Blue Line is collecting food waste to compost and keep out of the landfill.What might surprise you is that Blue Line Compost, an Adirondack based business, was collecting on average 3,785 pounds of food waste per week at the end of 2021. Some of that is residential food waste, but the majority is from restaurants, schools and other commercial businesses.
If you are searching for iconic images of the Adirondacks, particularly panoramic views of the Saranacs, you’ll do no better than those of fine art photographer Mark Kurtz.Already successful with his magical, scenic views, Mark is deeply committed to his craft and to digging even deeper so as to create new and unique photographs. His studio gallery on Main Street,Saranac Lake, New York, has the feel of a museum, with multiple rooms in the upstairs of an 1800’s building on Hogan’s Block of Main Street, filled with original film and digital photographs, cameras, proof sheets and memorabilia.
As a fan of NCPR journalist Emily Russell, I wanted to learn how she’s able to accomplish so much with her radio news reports. Although usually under 4 minutes, her stories effectively bring attention to people and issues in a creative and entertaining manner. Whether it’s about race or gender issues, abortion, or the issues facing the Adirondack Park, Emily’s stories are always slightly different than mainstream media.
Skip Murray is a fine arts photographer who values the art of taking a good photograph more than the type of camera equipment he is using. Whether it’s the delight in a child’s face, the dynamic energy of brilliant holiday fireworks, or the collective joy of a summer Saturday market, Skip’s focus is capturing the emotional essence of what he is photographing. His camera, currently a Nikon SLR,almost seems like an afterthought, although he is sure to have it with him. Whether he’s planning on photographing an event, or not, you’ll see Skip with his camera around his neck on the off chance thathe seesa shot he would not want to miss.He’s also not adverse to taking a photo with an iPhone.
I had been following the news about monies coming to most of the North Country airports from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).There were also reports of grants being made, some of which I have since learned had been from the CARES Act of 2020, and from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
I wanted to better understand how our regional airports operate, how commercial airlines and their routes are selected, and how airports are funded. It’s an understatement to say that “it’s complicated.”
Winosha Steele, a recent graduate from SUNY Plattsburgh, is already one of the area’s most recognizable and versatile creatives. Several of Winosha’s oil portraits are included in Reflections, a duo exhibition with Peter Russom at Saranac Lake’s BluSeed Studios. Some of the portraits are of family or friends, and some are of herself. Every face is different, and every expression is endearing.
What immediately caught my eye at the exhibition was, Evocation, a collage of self portraits, using pencil, paper and chalk pencils.
Pictured here: Winosha with Evocation at BluSeed Studios, Saranac Lake, New York March 5, 2022. Photo by Skip Murray.
“The literal meaning of Evocation is the act of recalling a feeling, memory or image to the conscious mind. This is precisely what I want this piece to do. To resonate with my constant development as an artist, throughout the years, throughout my existence.”
While she prefers staying out of the limelight, graphic designer Karen “Ren” Davidson Seward is well known in the North Country arts community for her collaborative spirit, talent and generosity. She has been involved in some of the most popular exhibits in the area, among them, the Wild Center exhibits at Whiteface Mountain, a revision of the exhibit Dreaming of Timbuctoo and the Memorial Field for Black Lives at John Brown Historic Farm.
I don’t remember the first time I heard the expression, aquatic invasive species, but after interviewing river steward Liz Metzger, I have a much better idea of why it is so important that we all help prevent their intrusion into our waterways in the Adirondacks. Liz couldn’t be a better ambassador for the Ausable River Association, whose mission is helping communities protect streams and lakes, and to help care for the Ausable River watershed, an area that encompasses some 512 square miles in the Adirondacks. Liz’s duties as a river steward are primarily outreach and education, and fortunately for Liz, these take her outdoors and allow her to interact with the public. She’s often accompanied by her “assistant” Otis (pictured above, photo by Liz Metzger).
The faces in David Kanietakeron Fadden’s paintings grab you immediately, they are full of joy and kinetic energy. I was able to interview David at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center inOnchiota, New York, where many of his paintings are currently on exhibit. David, who is an Akwesasne Mohawk and whose name Kanietakeron means Patches of Snow, helped me understand how attaining this skill to portray such emotion had been a process. He remembers the moment that he was leaving the Metropolitan Museum of art, and nearly out the door when he saw in one of the last rooms, a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. Although David had already been painting for many years, he felt that portraying expression and human anatomy were eluding him. When he saw the paint strokes, reflections of color on the skin, and softness of Franklin’s portrait at the Met, he described the moment as “jaw dropping,” and it inspired him to learn how to accomplish the same. For David, painting faces full of life and expression is fundamental to his art and evident in the work he has on exhibition at Six Nations.
I was supposed to be interviewing Susan about her art, but many conversations later, there was more to talk about. Susan has such wide ranging interests and is such an avid reader, it is hard to compare her energy with the peace and tranquility found in her paintings. Susan’s schedule is always packed. Besides being a member of the cooperative gallery, North Wind Fine Arts, at 85 Main Street, Saranac Lake where she serves as President and helped with their recent move, she is also a member of the Saranac Lake ArtWorks Board. She is originally from New Jersey, but she and her husband relocated to the Adirondacks in 2017.
I’m probably not the only person who clips and saves Yvona Fast’s superb articles about food and recipes from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. I still have her recipe Leek fritters are a traditional Sephardic Hanukkah Dish that I hope to try this winter.
But there is much more to know about Yvona’s writing and accomplishments, and interviewing Yvona in Lake Clear, I have been captivated by her life experiences, living on three continents and speaking multiple languages.
My favorite story of Yvona is how she came to write her first published article, Happenings in Siberia, but that comes later……
This fall, Lake Placid Film Festival will return to a live event, and shepherding it to fruition is Gary Smith, the current Chair of the Board of Adirondack Film Society. Schooled by his more than 40 years in the hospitality industry, Gary sees the festival as an opportunity to display the attractions of the Lake Placid area, as well as to bring filmmakers and their audiences together for the lively and thoughtful sharing of ideas.
Tall snow laden trees, a larger than life frog, an explosion of purple lilacs, these are among the brilliant watercolor and oil paintings that surprised me as I entered the doorway of the Small Fortune Studio for my interview of Tim Fortune. Located at 76 Main Street, Saranac Lake, New York, the Small Fortune Studio is a good place to stop during Saranac Lake’s first Art Walk of the season on July 15, 2021.
Owner artist Tim Fortune is a native of Saranac Lake. His paintings of nature, however, have also been inspired by his time living in Florida, Rome and Venice. Tim’s vision and technique has allowed him to create a distinctive translucent quality found in his paintings of trees, plantlife, land and sky of the natural world. Particularly noteworthy is how natural light seems to set his paintings on fire.
It was my pleasure to interview artist Sandra Hildreth at her home studio/gallery in Saranac Lake, with walls adorned by luxurious framed oil paintings and watercolors of the Adirondack mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
All of her landscape or waterscapes are of specific places that she has visited, often by hiking, paddling, or skiing to the location. While sitting at a beautiful wood table in the heart of her home, I couldn’t take my eyes off “Snow Squalls,” (pictured here) a winter scene that has been accepted to the 86th Annual National Juried Art Exhibition (Cooperstown, New York, July 9-August 13, 2021.)
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